It doesn’t happen every year, but this time around I’m hosting Thanksgiving. Below are some tips that I’ve learned that help me to actually have a fun day. Basically, I’m writing all this here as a reminder to myself to get it together and then let go and be thankful.
Hosting is fun! Right? Seriously, it can be! Take a deep breath, pour a glass of wine for yourself and enjoy. You’re with your nearest and dearest, it’s just one meal and you get the chance to do it all over again next year.
Have fun setting your table— the menu pretty much stays the same, so change it up with the ambience.
We always mix in special serving pieces passed down from grandmothers and great aunts. It makes me feel like they’re at the table with us. Especially on special holidays, use your good stuff and enjoy it.
I love to gather branches and flowers from our yard to adorn the table. Branches, small bouquets of flowers and votives always look natural and pretty— it’s seasonal and organic without looking like I got my glue gun out.
Even if it’s just your family, set out place cards. This makes everyone feel special and more comfortable, knowing that they’re sitting in the right spot. Direction is a good thing, especially if it’s pretty direction.
Getting a Little Prep-y
Be your own sous chef: Prep what you can a few days in advance. Get out all your veggies, wash and chop onions, carrots, celery, prep fresh herbs, cube and toast bread for stuffing.
Desserts can and should be made in advance. Check that off your list (which is my husband’s favorite expression). If you have a separate dining room you can set your table ahead of time as well.
With a house full of guests I usually make batch of granola for the morning that goes out on a tray with Greek yogurt and berries. Everyone can help himself or herself as they start their day.
Throughout the day, have a self-serve beverage bar for your guests. We have a tradition of a morning Bloody Mary—which my dad has always calls a “lift.” Set out all the fixings and some coffee, too. Of course, have plenty of water, sparkling and flat at the ready.
Don’t underestimate the power of a kickass gravy. It covers a multitude of sins or ho-hum sides.
There is no shame in ordering pizza for dinner Wednesday night, it will give you more room in your fridge and you’ll start the next day with a clean kitchen. It’s also a great time to make a batch of my easy Crisper Soup with all those stray veggies you need to clear out.
Pick out your clothes the day before: this includes both your cute sweats for morning cooking (thanks, social media) and a festive look for dinner. I ask my kids to pick out a nice outfit the day before to get a buy in on the dress code early. Shoes are optional.
Give the kids a job or two to get them involved and keep them busy. This year the girls will be on cranberry sauce duty, fold napkins, check-in on guests and take beverage orders.
Music is a must. It lightens the mood, it makes sticking your hand up that turkey feel peppy and fun. Two Pandora stations that are totally different, but equally great— Stevie Wonder and Bing Crosby with the Andrew Sisters.
Figure out a schedule that works for you to take a nice walk while the turkey is in the oven. Fresh air, exercise and gossip with your sisters are what we’re after here.
Most importantly, be sure not to overlook the obvious— step out of the kitchen for a few minutes of quiet to reflect on all the ways you’re thankful. Then, go give your people a hug and feed them.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!